Formal cause
Formal Form"al (f[^o]rm"al), a. [L. formalis: cf. F. formel.] 1. Belonging to the form, shape, frame, external appearance, or organization of a thing. [1913 Webster]

2. Belonging to the constitution of a thing, as distinguished from the matter composing it; having the power of making a thing what it is; constituent; essential; pertaining to or depending on the forms, so called, of the human intellect. [1913 Webster]

Of [the sounds represented by] letters, the material part is breath and voice; the formal is constituted by the motion and figure of the organs of speech. --Holder. [1913 Webster]

3. Done in due form, or with solemnity; according to regular method; not incidental, sudden or irregular; express; as, he gave his formal consent. [1913 Webster]

His obscure funeral . . . No noble rite nor formal ostentation. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

4. Devoted to, or done in accordance with, forms or rules; punctilious; regular; orderly; methodical; of a prescribed form; exact; prim; stiff; ceremonious; as, a man formal in his dress, his gait, his conversation. [1913 Webster]

A cold-looking, formal garden, cut into angles and rhomboids. --W. Irwing. [1913 Webster]

She took off the formal cap that confined her hair. --Hawthorne. [1913 Webster]

5. Having the form or appearance without the substance or essence; external; as, formal duty; formal worship; formal courtesy, etc. [1913 Webster]

6. Dependent in form; conventional. [1913 Webster]

Still in constraint your suffering sex remains, Or bound in formal or in real chains. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

7. Sound; normal. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

To make of him a formal man again. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

{Formal cause}. See under {Cause}.

Syn: Precise; punctilious; stiff; starched; affected; ritual; ceremonial; external; outward.

Usage: {Formal}, {Ceremonious}. When applied to things, these words usually denote a mere accordance with the rules of form or ceremony; as, to make a formal call; to take a ceremonious leave. When applied to a person or his manners, they are used in a bad sense; a person being called formal who shapes himself too much by some pattern or set form, and ceremonious when he lays too much stress on the conventional laws of social intercourse. Formal manners render a man stiff or ridiculous; a ceremonious carriage puts a stop to the ease and freedom of social intercourse. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Formal cause — Cause Cause (k[add]z), n. [F. cause, fr. L. causa. Cf. {Cause}, v., {Kickshaw}.] 1. That which produces or effects a result; that from which anything proceeds, and without which it would not exist. [1913 Webster] Cause is substance exerting its… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • formal cause — See causes: material, formal, efficient, final …   Philosophy dictionary

  • formal cause — /fawr meuhl/, Aristotelianism. See under cause (def. 8b). [1350 1400; ME] * * * …   Universalium

  • formal cause —  Формальная причина …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • formal cause — noun in Aristotelianism : the structure, essence, or pattern that a fully realized thing embodies …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cause — • Cause, as the correlative of effect, is understood as being that which in any way gives existence to, or contributes towards the existence of, any thing; which produces a result; to which the origin of any thing is to be ascribed Catholic… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • cause — cause, causal explanation In non specialist contexts, to ask for the cause of some particular happening is to ask what made it happen, or brought it about. To give a causal explanation is to answer such questions, usually by specifying some prior …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Formal — Form al (f[^o]rm al), a. [L. formalis: cf. F. formel.] 1. Belonging to the form, shape, frame, external appearance, or organization of a thing. [1913 Webster] 2. Belonging to the constitution of a thing, as distinguished from the matter composing …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cause — (k[add]z), n. [F. cause, fr. L. causa. Cf. {Cause}, v., {Kickshaw}.] 1. That which produces or effects a result; that from which anything proceeds, and without which it would not exist. [1913 Webster] Cause is substance exerting its power into… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Formal — The term formal has a number of uses, including:General*relating to formality *opposite of informalocial* Formal occasion ** Formal attire worn on such occasions ** Formals are particular meals at some British universities ** In Australian or… …   Wikipedia

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